Sunday, March 3, 2013

Classroom Library - Sorting the Non-Fiction

This week I am diving into a big non-fiction unit in Reading workshop. Although I do have a section of the library dedicated to non-fiction I usually add more by taking out several plastic tubs of non-fiction books I have stored in my closet. I also check out tons of non-fiction from our school library to help round out my collection. (Shhhhh....I also take books from our book room and put them in the class library. But you won't tell anyone will you?)  My goal is to have books that second graders can read independently. Most of the books are not leveled. I just have not had the time to level them all, and many probably don't have a Fountas & Pinnell level anyway. It 's on my to-do list! So, we rely on our lessons about choosing a good fit book, and the fact that I regularly confer with students and know them well as readers. I also know the books in my library pretty well which helps me match them to a reader. But, I admit that I need to read more non-fiction!

I like to have my students sort the books into categories and label the book baskets themselves. I do this for several reason. First, it allows students to preview what will be in the library and know where they can find a particular book if they are involved in sorting and labeling the baskets themselves.  Sorting the books together also gives me a chance to assess their knowledge of non-fiction topics. For example, this week I found out that the majority of the class had an understanding of what mammals were, but didn't have a lot of background knowledge about earth science, geography or history.

By the time we began the sorting activity students had noticed that several of the library shelves had been cleared and a a giant cart of books had appeared in the classroom.  So there was already excitement generated. I began the activity by explaining our purpose for sorting. We want to be able to find the books that we are interested in reading. I remind them how our fiction section is organized, but explain that with non-fiction we might want to do it differently. I use our basket of books labeled "non-fiction animals", and ask if we can sort the books into separate categories. Hands go up immediately and students share their ideas. I give each table a pile of books to sort and they get busy. I walk around and talk to the groups about their thinking, mostly asking questions and nudging their discussions or decisions in the right direction.

Once groups have sorted their books, we sit down on the rug and I ask someone to share a category. "We have a lot of books about reptiles." Immediately, there are hands up from other groups that also have reptile books. I give them a basket, a sentence strip, sharpie and a post it with the correct spelling. Off they go to fill our first basket. And I continue this way. I have to admit it gets a bit crazy, but in a good way. There are piles of books everywhere and students eagerly waiting to create a category. Once we get going the tape dispenser and sharpie markers are very popular. And sometimes we end up with duplicate labels.  It took us 2 work sessions to get most of the books sorted.  Exhausting, but important.

So, now we are ready to review our lessons on selecting good fit books with an eye for non-fiction books.  And next week we will begin learning about non-fiction text features and reading strategies.

How do you organize you classroom library for non-fiction?
Do you use a leveled library?

Cart full of books from the library.

No comments:

Post a Comment